For the third time in five years, The Washington Nationals are the champions of the National League East. Sure, they’ve got great pitching and big hitters, but we think the real reason is the “Heifetz Effect” – Heifetz students have made the drive from Staunton to Washington DC exactly….three times in the past five years to open a Nats game with a stirring two-violin version of our National Anthem.
Madison Vest and Brendon Elliott did the trick in 2012, the year of the Nats’ first division title. Okay, the narrative isn’t perfect, since we missed the division-winning 2014 season. But we were back with a vengeance in 2015, when 13-year olds Noga Shaham and Masha Lakisova wowed the crowd with their rendition, even earning a victory lap along the sidelines with the Nat’s mascot Screech the Eagle. You can read an entertaining behind-the-scenes account about the challenges of getting two performers on the field in front of 20,000 screaming fans here.
This division-topping year, the honors went to another pair of 13-year old Heifetz violinists: Caroline Smoak, from Fort Mill, SC, and Noga’s younger brother Michael Shaham, from Ra’anna Israel. Their dad, violinist Hagai Shaham, is among our renowned faculty members at the Heifetz Institute! Congrats to Caroline, Michael…and the Nats! (PS to the front office: We’re keeping the rosin warm just in case we’re needed for the postseason…)